Friday, August 19, 2016

My version of Pasta y Fagioli with Sausage

I Love Soup!                                                                             

Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall, I love soup, I love them all. Well that's actually not true, I don't love them all, but I do love this one.  A few years ago I found myself with some spicy Italian sausage in the freezer, not being a fan of lasagna and other pasta dishes I turned to the internet for ideas and stumbles across literally thousands recipes for Pasta y Fagioli so I thought I'd give it a try. The recipe I tried was too tomatoey and the next was too bland, I decided to find the common denominators in the recipes and set out to create a version I would love. There was something about the combination of beans, sausage and kale I really like.  I make this soup often and in big batches so I can freeze it for lunches at work.  It never turns out exactly the same, and sometimes I add more or less of the ingredients depending on what is in the cupboard.  That's the Beauty of cooking, you can tweak things to meet your tastes, more beans, no problem, hate kale, use spinach, don't eat gluten, leave out the pasta. The one thing I have learned that hard way is not to skimp on the sausage, if the sausage doesn't have a good flavor, neither will the soup. I have made with traditional Italian sausage as well as Chicken and the type of meat doesn't matter, it is how good the sausage tastes that counts in this recipe. I usually get the spicy turkey Italian sausage at Byerly's/Lunds but I have found that isn't always consistent in flavor, worse case scenario is to add extra fennel and red pepper flakes on the back end to meet your taste.

The Basics
1 1/2 Lbs. Good Italian sausage
3 Cups Chopped Carrots
2 Cups Chopped Celery
2 Cups Chopped Onion
4 Garlic Cloves, diced
1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes (Use liquid)
3 Canned Cannellini Beans (Drained and rinsed well)
8-10 Cups Chicken Broth
1 small bunch Kale
1-2 TBL Italian Seasoning
1 Cup Ditalini Pasta
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmigianino-Reggiano to sprinkle on top

  1. In a large stockpot, cook sausage over medium heat, crumble and cook until no longer pink, drain and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, saute onion, celery and carrots until tender.
  3. Add garlic saute 1 minute longer.
  4. Add 1 TB Italian Seasoning, salt, pepper and stir.
  5. Add the broth, beans, tomatoes, and ditalini.
  6. Bring to a boil then reduce to low.
  7. Cook uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until macaroni is tender.
  8.  Add Kale and cook for 2-3 minutes or until kale is wilted.
Tradition is to sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano prior to serving, I do not like it in this soup at all but give it a try and decide for yourself.
If freezing, remove the portion you want to freeze BEFORE you add the pasta, sometimes pasta gets gritty when frozen and it grosses me out.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's all Greek to me!

It's below zero but I'm craving greek salad! Haven't blogged in forever, but thought I would take a second and jot down the dressing recipe. I like to make a batch of this on Sunday and bring it for lunches at work during the week.  Grilled chicken on top and I'm good to go!

1 Cup good Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tsp Kosher Salt
2 tsp dried Oregano
1 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
4 cloves Garlic, grated

Mix chopped romaine, cucumber, tomato, red onion, feta, peppers and olives (But not in my house!)
Toss with dressing and serve.  I like to add chicken too!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Roman Chicken

It's June in Minnesota - unpredictable. 
Yesterday I spent the day in Northfield at a soccer jamboree where it was 65 degrees and windy.  I sat there in my portable chair bundled in a polar fleece blanket to stay warm; today it is in the 80s' and humid, it makes it hard to plan.  One of my son's teammates has a dad who had neck surgery a few days ago and I thought it would be a kindly gesture to make a meal for the family, one less thing for another busy mom to worry about.  This is how I was raised.  As I told C upon delivery, I was raised to make Matzo Ball soup for illness and a full meal for the more major ailments in life.  While I pondered what to make for people I have never broken bread with before, I found the warm weather making it more difficult. Winter is easy, any comfort food is a welcoming dish when it's 10 degrees out. Summertime with the warmer temps made it harder for me, meals aren't really make ahead friendly.  I landed on Roman Chicken with a side of asparagus and a crusty ciabatta to soak up the sauce.  I hope they enjoyed it. In addition to her husband who is a weight lifter and I assume a hearty eater, she has two growing boys and I know how they can's ridiculous. 

Before I packed it up I had to make sure it tasted good, I thought delicious.  I will be making this again.

Roman Chicken 

  • 6 skinless chicken breast halves
  • salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 Orange bell pepper
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen diced - organic)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoons capers
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped


  1. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder on both sides
  2. In a skillet on medium heat, add a tsp or two of olive oil. Once hot, brown the chicken on both side, I do this in batches, three pieces at a time.  Set aside.
  3. Using the same pan, add the peppers and prosciutto and cook until the peppers are wilted and the prosciutto is crisp, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  6. Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Right before serving add the capers and the parsley. Stir to combine and serve.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tequillaberry Salad

This recipe comes from a restaurant in Minnesota called Tequillaberry's.  It is now closed and I never ate there but they were known for this salad.  I had it for the first time one Christmas while celebrating at a friend's house.  It was delicious.  If you look on-line there are dozens and dozens of recipes.  I use the one Stacy gave me and sometimes when I'm feeling really crazy I add a handful of frozen peas, that's the way I like it best but I stand alone in my family.

1 head of iceberg lettuce or the equivalent, I like romaine best
1 .5 Cup cauliflower florets
1/2 Red Onion sliced thin
1 Cup Mayo
1/4 Cup sugar
3 T Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan Cheese
8 slices bacon - chopped

Chop lettuce and add cauliflower, onion, bacon (and peas if adding)
Make dressing by adding remaining ingredients

Toss right before serving.  The dressing is strong and I like only a little bit.  You can cut in half and still have leftovers.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Casserole or Hotdish?

Casserole or Hotdish?

I didn't grow up on casseroles or as they say here in Minnesota, Hotdish. It was one of many nuances I've learned in my now 17 year here; cottage & cabin, pier and dock, keg & barrel, hassock & ottoman, the list goes on and on and on.  Bubler is a dead give away that my roots are in Wisconsin and I can't tell you how pleased I was when I heard my 11 year old,  born and raised here in the twin cities, ask where the bubler way....made mama proud!

At any rate, I've been cooking a lot over the past three months, I have two friends fighting cancer, both with kids and I wanted to help them out the best I could.  Since I posses no cure, work 50+ hours a week and feel like a chauffeur on nights and weekends the best way I can think to help them out is to cook or provide services like cleaning, laundry etc.....Food seemed to be the one thing they both could appreciate and accept without hesitation.  That worked out well for for all of us.

I had run out of ideas and asked H what she would like. In the midst of a 5 day chemo she had shared that her cravings during chemo turned to what else? Comfort food.  She wanted a hot dish.  I didn't know what to do. I don't do hot dish.  I started to read up on this Minnesota delicacy and decided a version of Shepard's pie was what I was going to tackle.  My research had listed Mac and Cheese, Chicken and Dumplings and Shepard's Pie as the top comfort dishes in this region.  Since I had already made the first two for my friends I decided the third was a must.  I made lots of changes to meet the needs of H, which was LOTS of vegetables and the rest is what I came up with.  I thought it tasted great.  Probably offensive to those whose Grandma made traditional Shepard's Pie so I apologize if you are offended, here is my version. Please keep in mind I was cooking for two families and it made two hearty 9x9 pans, cut in half if needed.

2 Lbs extra lean ground beef
2 Cups onions diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 Lb mushrooms, sliced
4 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 Cup fresh green beans, cut into 1" pieces
1 small yellow squash, cubed
10 asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 Cup peas
1/2 Cup corn
1Cup chicken stock

2T Flour
2t Worcestershire
2T tomato paste
1/2 t fresh pepper, ground
1 t salt
1/2 t thyme

Start by making your favorite type of mashed potato for the topping.  For this particular day I used reds and added a touch of Parmesan. While potatoes are boiling start the filling.

Saute onions, mushrooms and carrots in a bit of heated oil, once they start to cook down add the garlic and cook for another few minutes.  Add the beef, salt, and pepper and cook until brown.  Tilt saute pan and spoon out all but one or two Tablespoons of fat.  Add green beans, squash and asparagus and cook for two or three minutes.  Sprinkle two Tablespoons of flour over mixture and toss until coated.  Add tomato paste, stock, Worcestershire, thyme and mix well.  Once reduced, 10 minutes or so, stir in peas and corn.

Spread evenly into an 11x7 pan, topping with the mashed potatoes of your choice. I like to use a pastry bag and make florets of pattern.  Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes if mixture is hot.  If making ahead, plan for an hour.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Hamantaschen...small triangular shaped cookies with fruit filling remind me of Hebrew School many many years ago.  I remember prune and poppy seed being my favorite followed by apricot, and believe I was the only student who didn't like the nontraditional chocolate chip version.  Hamantaschen are made during the holiday of Purim, if I recall correctly a celebration from the book of Esther where the evil Haman planned to kill all the Jews but instead Mordecai came to their rescue.  This day of deliverance is now celebrated with carnivals and kidsdress up like Esther or Mordecai with the courageous ones dressed as Haman or a hamantaschen.  Hamantaschen are triangular in shape and they represent the three pointed hate the Haman wore.  At work this week my team member from Germany told me that taschen means purse or pouch, it made.

Our temple does the most amazing services during this holiday, they write scripts and act them out using themes from things we love like Dr. Seuss, GLEE and most recently, "The Muppets Take Purim". They are quite an amazing group of people.

Anywhooo.......I saw Purim on my Outlook calendar one night while working at home and thought it would be a great idea to make some with my daughter.  Seldom home and often crabby I knew she would be a captive audience since her grounding wasn't up for another two days.  I thought a little bonding and chatting while baking might be one of those memories I could help create, the kind I long for with my own family but can't. It took her a while to get into the rolling of the dough but after an hour or two she actually smiled, teeth and all!  It was a great evening for the both of us and one I hope to make an annual event from here on out.  I tried a new filling this year, almond and WOW were they delicious!  Here is hoe the recipe goes, it is from The Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook I received many years ago from G as a Chanukah present.  It goes a little like this...............

Hamantaschen Dough
3 cups all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
3/4 cup lightly salted butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs plus one to be beaten with 1 T water
1 t vanilla

I don't do filling.  I want the exact same flavors I had as a child and there is no substitution in my mind for Solo.  You can find it in the baking aisle.

  1. Whisk flour and baking powder
  2. In a separate bowl cream butter and sugar
  3. Add butter/sugar mixture to flour mixture and combine
  4. Add3 eggs and vanilla mixing until dough in formed
  5. Refrigerate for at least two hours
  6. Roll out to 1/8" thickness
  7. Cut into circles.  I use a water glass with approx 3" diameter
  8. Place 1 teaspoon filling into center
  9. Fold dough and pinch creating a triangle
  10. Brush with egg/water mixture
  11. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment
  12. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes
  13. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Stroganoff - A request from G

It's Sunday.....the day of rest........LOL
I learned a little about myself this week, I'm too old to stay up until 3am, three days in a row.  A four day girls weekend was just what my soul needed; time to regroup without judgement or care, I came home whole again ready to face the world head-on for another 6 months before the next getaway.  It's 7 days later and I am just now starting to feel like myself again, I guess it's true, no rest for the wicked.

Anyhow, it's Sunday the day I cherish. The day I know the four of us will be together at the dinner table talking about the week to come.  The day I make a meal that takes more than 30 minute, may contain butter or cream or some other ingredient we try to avoid most days. 

 I always ask for requests and more often than not get none, leaving me perusing my collection of books or the Internet for ideas.  Today was different! G requested beef strogenoff. I don't think I've made that in more than a decade... I'm not a fan of white food of any kind.   I didn't care, I was ecstatic someone had a suggestion, any suggestion, so off to the store I went.  After making a batch of healthy pumpkin muffins which turned out pretty darn bad, I turned my attention to dinner.  Here is how it went.  Overall pretty darn tasty.  I expected lots of leftovers but as I worked on the dishes, which should have been done by the kids but weren't as they were sent to their rooms for being so obnoxious I just couldn't take it anymore, G kept eating and eating until there was only a small amount left, so much for a second meal for four.  Enjoy!

Beef Stroganoff

1.5 Lbs tenderloin
1LB Mushrooms sliced thin - I like to use a mixed variety
1 small onion chopped
2 t Flour
3 T Butter
1/2 C Beef broth
1/2 C Cream
1 C Sour Cream
1.5 T Dijon

2 T Chopped, fresh parley
Egg Noodles
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut tenderloin into strips approx 1 x 1/4 inch
  2. Salt and pepper
  3. Sear in batches and set aside on plate
  4. Saute onions and mushrooms in butter until soft, 15 minutes
  5. Add flour and sit until Incorporated
  6. While sauteing in step 4, combine cream, sour cream, Dijon and broth in a separate bowl
  7. Add liquids to pan, turn heat down to a simmer and stir until it thickens
  8. Add meat and keep on low until meat it warmed
  9. Stir in parsley
  10. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed
  11. Serve over egg noodles